Brokers and sales associates are vulnerable to infringement claims, so make sure you own or have a license to use any listing or other photos you use in connection with a listing or that appear on your website. If you contract with a photographer, get a written agreement.
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of receiving a demand letter from the copyright holder or an attorney.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, passed in 1998, offers a safe harbor that protects MLSs, listing aggregators, and other web service providers from copyright infringement claims related to content placed on the website by third parties. The safe harbor includes a requirement that a copyright agent be designated and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.
In addition, and among the safe harbor’s other requirements, the website service provider must post the copyright agent’s contact information, and have a take-down procedure for when it is notified that infringing material is on its site.
Here are recent updates regarding DMCA protection:
- A designated representative must be selected to receive any “Take-down Notices” for the website, when and if content is challenged.
- You must provide “Designated Agent” information on the website (Example: in TOU or Post DMCA Notice)
- You must register the Designated Agent information with the U.S. Copyright office:
- New online registration system and electronic directory (no more paper)
- The filing fee is $6 (previously it was $105, plus $35 for alternative names).
- All previously submitted registrations in the “old” directory must be resubmitted into new electronic system by December 31, 2017, or they will automatically expire.
- Filing is active for three (3) years
Link to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Agent Directory to register: